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CBN.com “The more people would tell me, ‘You can’t do that. You can’t get away with that,’ I would say, ‘Well, watch me.’”
To the police, 18-year-old Levi Blatchford was a petty drug dealer they wanted off the streets. But to Delores Blatchford, Levi was her precious first-born son, and she wanted desperately to save him.
As for Levi, he wanted to outwit them all.
“I thought I was the smartest man on the planet,” he says.
What had happened to Delores’ innocent little boy? It began in high school.
Levi says, “The people who were popular were drug dealers, so I was in competition with them. If I could make as much money as them, people would recognize me, and I’d be esteemed by my peers. It would give me friends. It would give me girls. It would give me money.”
One thousand dollars every three days.. . if he worked hard. Levi was using drugs too, but he knew he had to stay alert to stay alive. There were people who were jealous of his hard-earned profits and addicts who would kill for free drugs.
Levi says there was another threat to his dream of becoming a drug kingping… his praying mother.
“Nothing would anger me more than hearing, ‘I’m praying for you,’ because I felt like, ‘Every time you pray for me something bad happens.’”
“Something bad” to Levi was getting busted. The first time happened in high school for possession of $600 worth of cocaine . He was suspended, put on probation and sent to drug court. But to Levi, it was still a game.
“Just to spite people. Just to say, ‘Look, you go to work 40 hours a week, and you can’t afford a car. I don’t work at all, and I’ve got three cars.’”
So Levi continued to build his drug business. And his parents continued to pray
Delores recalls, “I would literally kneel down at the couch and cry and pray and say, ‘Lord, please help him. Please don’t let my son be anything but a Christian.’”
Delores and Ken had some allies in this war for Levi’s soul – CBN prayer counselors.
“I’d call The 700 Club,” Delores says. “It gave me hope. They pointed me back to Jesus. All things are possible through Him.”
Ken says, “Delores would pray, ‘Make him a mighty man of God.’”
“I knew that when my mom prayed that it would work and that was my biggest fear,” Levi says.
Levi had good reason to be concerned. The police were watching him. Closely.
“I think there was a part of me that wanted to get busted, but not just for being sloppy. In a sense, I wanted to get busted because I was so miserable.”
But despite his misery, Levi says he couldn’t stop selling drugs.
“You can’t just stop. I mean, your affections, your heart, your mind, your emotions are driving your will to the point of: ‘I have to get more. I have to sell more.’”
Levi’s parents didn’t know everything that was going on, but they knew they had to continue to pray. And Levi says that he was reaching a breaking point..
“I just felt sorrowful because I knew that there was no way out other than prison, dying. I was crying and I said, ‘Lord, I know that I have to believe and I have to repent and I can’t. I can’t repent. I love my sin way too much. Unless You do it, I’ll never be saved.”
Two weeks after that desperate prayer, the life of Levi Blatchford became a blur of piercing sirens and drawn guns. Busted for the second time at age 19…
Then came the booking and the sterile jail cell, but Levi says he remembered the prayer he prayed just two weeks before. It was a strange comfort, but he still faced the dire consequences of his crimes.
“I was afraid of the unknown. I was afraid of prison. I was afraid of jail. I was just completely afraid.”
That’s when Levi overheard two Christian prisoners talking about the Bible.
“They were talking about Malachi, and they were talking about a man robbing God,” says Levi. “I felt that passage applied to me in such a different way to where I had been robbing God my whole life. I just told ‘em, ‘I don’t want to rob Him anymore. I want Him to change my life, because this is the end. If I have to spend the rest of my life in prison, I want it to mean something.’”
A jail chaplain helped Levi as he prayed.
Ken recalls, “I was astonished at the transformation in him because we weren’t allowed to see him for quite a while and his eyes were different and his language was different and he was a new creation.”
While his eternal destiny was secure, Levi still faced earthly justice. It didn’t look good. Levi knew he had to plead guilty to five felonies.
“Justice would have been 90 years, but I just prayed and begged God for mercy,” says Delores.
God’s mercy to Levi was an 18 year sentence with 9 years suspended. Two prior years of probation were applied to bring the sentence down to seven years. He entered a remarkable program run by calvary chapel called the God’s Pod. Levi became a model prisoner and student.
“I was hungry,” Levi says. “I have to run this race and I have to keep running.”
As Levi began his quiet service for the Lord in prison, there would be another stunning demonstration of God’s mercy.
Prison officials recognized Levi’s “quiet service” as good behavior and in August of 2005, Levi was released after serving only four years of his seven year sentence.
Delores says, “I see such a change in his life, a change that God made for him. I just feel like crying because I thought I was going to lose him, but the Lord is faithful. I can’t thank Him enough. There’s no one who could have done it but Him.”
Today, now 24, Levi attends Bible school at Calvary Chapel and works part time. To the police, he’s a model ex-convict. To Delores, he’s still her precious son. And to Levi? He’s just grateful for parents who prayed and for what happened behind prison bars.
“Never in my whole entire life have I been more happy than when I was locked up in a prison cell. Totally alone, but I had everything. I had the Lord.”
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